Eugenia Wright Hall-January 7, 1952-March 31, 2011Commentary — By Buddy Sampson on April 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm
Eugenia Wright Hall- January 7, 1952-March 31, 2011
The World Became Poorer Last Thursday
Yesterday, I assisted in burying a wonderful friend, Eugenia Wright Hall. You know, you see a person over the years, and in Hollywood, sometimes you see them at events and get a chance to party with them. But yesterday was different. Many people that attended, including I, got the opportunity of meeting her family and her inner circle for the first time. I met Eugenia’s mother, a lovely lady from Guatemala and met other members of her family. Her son, Isa, a tall handsome man, was absolutely gracious to everyone, not a small task, considering he lost his mother, best friend and, as he eloquently said yesterday, his confidant as well. J.D. Hall spoke with incredible strength of character, and he conducted the services of his dear wife of 32 years at Forest Lawn Cemetary in the Hollywood Hills, the same location where Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor are buried. It was a Muslim ceremony, with an Islamic tradition of burial, and many of the wellwishers and people that loved Eugenia attended. J.D., and I’m sure this was incredibly difficult for him, walked the attendees of this somber occasion, through the traditions and customs of a Muslim funeral, explaining each part of the service. The spiritual leader of the service (referred to as an Imam) reminded the attendees that we are all of one family, regardless of race, nationality, creed, sex or color. His voice was soothing and measured.
J.D. was very surprised at the huge turnout to the service, but many of us that knew Eugenia were not. It was star-studded. Among the many celebrities and notables that attended were Glynn Turman, Ollie Brown, Florence LaRue (of the Fifth Dimension), Josie Goldberg, Neshia Brathwaite Farhangi, Leon Isaac Kennedy, Ted Lange, Michael Colyar, Lynne Conner Smith, Lee Bailey, Luenell, Kathleen Bradley Redd, Jeffrey Henderson, Donna Rowe, Trueful, Tionne, Annie McKnight, Larry Dunn(of Earth, Wind and Fire) David Harrison Levi, William Hanford Lee, Brandy Sanders, Ian Foxx, Michael Stone, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Sam Bell, photographers Vinni Ratliff and Donald Carraway, and many, many others. The service was one that was reserved for a dignitary, and Eugenia Wright Hall was a definite dignitary. She touched many, many lives and because she touched so many lives and connected so many people together, many wanted to pay homage and tribute to this fantastic, wonderful lady. The procession was large, one reserved for a Queen. And that she was. Eugenia Wright Hall was a true queen of a lady that left us way too soon. When the service was concluded, tradition called for the attendees, after her body was lowered in the ground, to use shovels and put earth on the casket. I, of course participated in that tradition, and shoveled a few mounds of earth on the casket of my friend, as did columnist Kim Webster of The Scoop LA.
Comedienne Luenell threw a bash at the Smoke House in Burbank and those of us that knew Eugenia knew that the bash was conducted like she would have wanted. There were drinks flowing, and Luenell was in rare form. She was positively hilarious. William Hanford Lee sang and played a beautiful rendition of “Tears In Heaven,” that didn’t leave a dry eye in the celebration of Eugenia Wright Hall’s life. Several attendees spoke at makeshift podium, including Leon Isaac Kennedy (who spoke about working with her in Penitentiary 2), Sam Bell, Betrice Coleman Sweet, Lee Bailey, Kathleen Bradley-Redd and a few others, including I. I talked about how devoted and hard working Eugenia was for her clients and told a story of being invited to a red carpet event she threw. She invited me to walk the red carpet as an ex-Soul Train dancer. What I forgot to mention was that it was the first red carpet I ever walked in my life. I’ve walked several since then, but Eugenia invited me to walk my first one. I’ll always remember that.
Isa mentioned in the service that Eugenia was his confidant. But Eugenia was a confidant to many people, including myself. We sometimes would talk two to three times a week, for hours on end, talking about Hollywood, our personal lives and not getting paid by people that wanted our services for free. We would laugh a lot. She knew secrets about me and my life that I’d never tell anyone, but her, because she always knew how to maintain a confidence. She consoled me when Deidra Burtonelli died. She was no doubt, one of my best friends. She encouraged me. Many people that attended Luenell’s bash had very bewildered looks on their faces and it was for many reasons. We talked about one of the reasons why. Eugenia, and this is not to insult other publicists, was the best in the city. Why? Because she treated her clients and friends like we all were special. If you even had just a little bit of talent, she would make you feel like a star. That was why I referred clients to her. Many people there had planned on using her as a publicist, including I. I recently picked my bass up again and there was no other publicist I wanted to use but Eugenia Wright Hall. So many of us, were asking, now what? She has incredibly huge shoes to fill.
She was an old school publicist that believed in romancing the media. She worked hard and maybe that devotion shortened her life. She would accompany clients to events, sometimes until very late at night, then get up early and type press releases. When we were talking on the phone, sometimes she would be typing away. During one of her last events, people were urging her to go home and rest, but she insisted on staying because her clients were still there. During her last conversation to me, sometime, I believe in late February, she said to me that she was very proud of me. That is something I won’t forget for the rest of my life. But she didn’t know how proud I was of her, and how incredibly honored I was to be her friend and to know her. I’ve been trying to find pictures of her and I together, but we didn’t take many pictures together and I have no idea why. I asked photographer Donald Carraway if he had any and he told he had a picture of us dancing together at her birthday party a year ago. It was too much for me to bear. I broke out in tears.
But the tears were because I wanted a keepsake to chronicle a moment in time that showed she was my friend and that she was an important part of my life. I loved that lady. As I said on the makeshift podium at the Smoke House, her friendship made me feel rich and important. But she made everyone feel that way. The world became poorer on March 31, 2011. I will dearly miss that wonderful lady. She was very, very special in my life and in the lives of all that knew her. May her spirit rest with the angels.